The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots completed their annual home-and-home series on Sunday as part of the NFL’s Week 8 schedule. The Dolphins, having already beaten the Patriots in Week 2, backed up that victory with a solid performance to finish the season sweep. Everything seemed to be working for the Dolphins for the weekend.
The game tightened up at the end, with the Patriots pulling to within a touchdown with 8:30 remaining, but the Dolphins managed to hold on for the win.
Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill became the first play in NFL history to have 1,000 yards in the first eight games of the season. He is on pace to become the first 2,000-yard receiver in league history.
The Dolphins’ offense was explosive throughout the game, but they also showed they can play ball-control offense when needed. The defense put together what may be their best all-around performance of the season and, when they get to full strength, including the return of cornerback Xavien Howard and safety Jevon Holland, they are going to be simply scary for opposing teams.
The Dolphins continue to pace the AFC East, moving to 6-2 on the season, but the storyline of they have only beaten teams below .500 continues with this win. They have a chance next week to put that to bed as they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany.
Miami is planning to fly to Germany tomorrow, giving them plenty of time to adjust to the time zone and prepare for the game.
After the score below, you can find all of the in-game immediate reactions broken down by quarter. Reactions are in italics from throughout the game.
Patriots 17 - 31 Dolphins
First Quarter Reactions
Miami won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Patriots the ball to start the game and relying on their defense to make a stop. The defense came out firing, with cornerback Kader Kohou stopping a swing pass for a five-yard loss on first down. The Patriots would gain a total of two yards on the three-and-out drive to start the game.
The defense seems fired up, looking to take it to the Patriots early. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Nik Needham are back and they will be looking to make their presence known.
Miami’s first possession was a little better than the Patriots’ but not by a lot. Running back Raheem Mostert picked up six yards then, following an incomplete pass and a three-yard pass from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to wide receiver Braxton Berrios, Miami elected to go for it on a 4th-and-1 situation. Tagovailoa threw to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for 17 yards and a first down, but Mostert picked up two yards, then lost three yards, before a 3rd-and-11 incomplete pass led to a punt.
That was a trade of nothing possessions. The punt from the Patriots’ 39-yard line was an interesting choice, and the touchback led to a net of 19 yards on the punt. Should Miami have tried the long field goal with Jason Sanders or tried to convert another fourth down? Not sure it was worth making the long-conversion attempt this early in the game, but the Dolphins could have taken it to the Patriots defense if they were able to convert two fourth downs on the opening drive.
New England started with a pass from quarterback Mac Jones to tight end Pharaoh Brown for nine yards, then followed it with a three-yard rush from running back Ezekiel Elliott. After the first down, the drive stalled, with wide receiver Demario Douglas picking up three yards on an end around, then Elliott adding three yards on a rush, and Jones having to throw a quick pass to running back Rhamondre Stevenson stopped for two yards as Miami blitzed and created some confusion. The Patriots again punted.
Good defense again. The blitz was well-timed on the third-down play. Can the offense get down the field and put up some points now?
The drive started with a good pass to tight end Durham Smythe, gaining 15 yards. A couple of plays later, Tagovailoa was sacked for a six-yard loss, then Tagovailoa never saw safety Kyle Dugger drop into the passing lane and Tagovailoa threw a pass toward Hill directly to Dugger for the interception.
Nice pass across the middle to Smythe. Tagovailoa anticipated the tight end would come open and threw it into the perfect spot. The rest of the drive needs to be quickly forgotten. Christian Barmore came straight through the line to get that sack, then Tagovailoa just completely missed Dugger in the passing lane. Ugly couple of plays and the defense is going to be pressured after the turnover.
An incomplete pass started the drive as defensive tackle Zach Sieler pressure Jones and forced a bad throw. After Stevenson picked up six yards, Jones threw a slant to wide receiver Kendrick Bourne with no one near the receiver and a 24-yard touchdown resulted. Patriots 7-0.
The Patriots have had a habit of starting slowly this year. They seemed to shake it last week against the Buffalo Bills and are now keeping it up against the Dolphins. Miami cannot afford to let New England hang in this game. Time to even up the score, then get back into rhythm and end this game early.
The drive started with a nine-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle. Running back Jeff Wilson, Jr., who made his season debut last week after landing on injured reserve to start the season, four yards and 11 yards on runs on either side of a five-yard pass to fullback Alec Ingold. After another Wilson run for four yards, Miami set up the deep ball, with Tagovailoa finding wide receiver Hill in the endzone for the 42-yard touchdown pass. Tied 7-7.
There is the Miami offense. Run the ball, draw in the defense, then use the speed at the receiver position to take the top off. Perfectly done. And, I guess Stephen A. Smith would say that was 21 passes for Tagovailoa to get the ball the 42 yards down to Hill.
A two-yard pass from Jones to Douglas began the series for New England, but was also the end of the first quarter.
Second Quarter Reactions
After the break, an Elliott run and fumble were negated by an offensive holding penalty, backing the Patriots into a 2nd-and-18. A two-yard Elliott run, an incomplete pass, and a false start penalty led to a Patriots punt from their own 14-yard line.
The defense did its job to give the offense the chance to take the lead. Just a shut-down possession by the defense.
Starting at their own 47-yard line, the Dolphins moved into New England territory with a holding penalty on defensive lineman Davon Gochaux. Miami continued to move the ball through a mix of runs and passes, including an eight-yard run on 4th-and-4 from Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa was sacked for a six-yard loss a couple of plays later, but it would not matter. Tagovailoa found Waddle for 14 yards on 3rd-and-14, then threw a two-yard screen to Hill for the first down on 4th-and-1. After a defensive pass interference penalty a few plays later, Miami was set up with a 1st-and-Goal from the one-yard line. After an incomplete pass targeting Hill, Tagovailoa found Cedrick Wilson, Jr., for the score. Dolphins 14-7.
The Dolphins are playing really good all-around football right now. The ground and aerial attacks are both moving the ball. If you add in Tagovailoa being able to run for first downs, this offense may be unfair for the rest of the league. Guard Robert Hunt was injured on the 14-yard pass to Waddle, so that will have to be watched.
Trailing with 6:10 remaining in the half, the Patriots looked to move the ball quickly down the field and respond to Miami’s score. Jones started the drive with a pass to Bourne for six yards, then Stevenson ran up the middle for another six yards. A 13-yard gain on a pass from Jones to Douglas followed an incomplete pass, then an 11-yard run from Stevenson followed a one-yard gain. Stevenson then gained another one yard on a run before Jones connected with wide receiver DeVante Parker for 14 yards, leading into the two-minute warning. After the break, Jones looked to Bourne, but cornerback Jalen Ramsey, making his season and team debut, picked up the pass and returned it 49 yards.
Welcome to Miami, Ramsey! The Patriots were crushing the Dolphins with slant routes on that drive, but Ramsey read it perfectly, came off Parker’s route to undercut the throw and just stepped out of line as he tried to leap over the last defender between him and the endzone. What a way to make your debut with the team.
Beginning at the Patriots’ 40-yard line, Miami looked to both run the clock and drive for the score. An 11-yard gain on a pass to Waddle followed an incomplete pass on first down. After a holding penalty, Miami gained six yards on a Tagovailoa to Hill pass. Tagovailoa then threw a 17-yard pass to Waddle, who was slipping as he made his cut but somehow still jumped and completed the catch. After a Miami timeout and an incomplete pass, a swing pass to running back Salvon Ahmed picked up four yards and moved the Dolphins to the Patriots’ 12-yard line. Another timeout and an incomplete pass set up 4th-and-6, with the Dolphins settling for a field goal. Dolphins 17-7.
Effective drive that ate up clock and gave the team a chance to add points before the half, knowing they were getting the ball back to start the second half as well. A very well done, very Belichick like drive.
The Patriots knelt to kill the clock after the kickoff.
The Dolphins are playing well and look like they have shaken off any lingering issues from last week’s loss. They are moving the ball on offense, and the defense is in bend-don’t-break mode. Everything seems to be working - maybe not up to full speed yet, but they are getting warmed up.
Tua Tagovailoa is 18-for-26 for 165 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, giving him a 95.8 passer rating in the first half. Jeff Wilson, Jr., is leading with 19 rushing yards on three carries while Raheem Mostert has five carries for nine yards. Tyreek Hill has five receptions for 74 yards and a score, Jaylen Waddle has five receptions for 67 yards, and Cedrick Wilson, Jr., has a reception for one yard and a touchdown.
On defense, Christian Wilkins, DeShon Elliott, Jaelan Phillips, and Brandon Jones all have three tackles each. Jalen Ramsey has an interception and Kader Kohou has a tackle for a loss. If Miami can get a score to start the second half, the Patriots may be in pass-first mode the rest of the game and the defense can start tallying some sacks.
Third Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins opened the drive at their own 25-yard line after a touchback on the kickoff. The handoff was missed between Tagovailoa and Mostert, with the Patriots recovering the loose ball.
Ouch! Not the start Miami needed. Now the defense has to step up and keep the Patriots from turning this into a touchdown.
A three-yard run from Stevenson and a two-yard pass from Jones to Douglas brought up 3rd-and-5 from the Miami 14-yard line. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins got to Jones on the next play, pulling him down for a sack and forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal. Dolphins 17-10.
Miami missed their opportunity to double-up with scores on either side of the halftime break, but the defense did a great job of not making it any worse after the fumble. The team needs to shake it off and get back into rhythm now.
The Dolphins opened the drive with a 22-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill. After a false start penalty, Miami was backed up to their own 40-yard line. From there, Mostert picked up six yards, then Tagovailoa found Waddle deep for 23 yards on 3rd-and-9, making up for a drop Waddle had on the second-down play the snap prior. The offense gained 30 yards on the next four plays, highlighted by a wide receiver Chase Claypool catch for 15 yards. On 1st-and-Goal from the one-yard line, Mostert scored to extend Miami’s lead. Dolphins 24-10.
Hill is now sitting at 998 receiving yards on the year. Ridiculous that he will have 1,000 yards in eight games. Claypool’s first reception with the Dolphins was a big first down. Tight end Durham Smythe just missed scoring on the play before Mostert punched it in. Good drive for the Dolphins and continues Tagovailoa’s point-guard-like distribution of the ball. Nine different players have caught a pass so far in this game.
Jones started the drive with a 24-yard pass to Brown, jumping the offense out to near midfield. A run for no gain and two-straight incomplete passes led to a Patriots punt.
Good defensive recovery after giving up the big play. Safety Deshon Elliott crushed DeVante Parker on the 2nd-down pass, a play that probably should have been called for helmet-to-helmet contact as he made the hit and clipped the facemask of Parker. Parker left the game with a head injury.
Miami’s possession was a back-and-forth set of downs for the team. They started at their own four-yard line after the punt, then picked up two yards on first down with a Wilson run. Tagovailoa then threw to Wilson for seven yards, setting up 3rd-and-1. A seven-yard pass to Hill gave Miami a first down, but the next play was negated by a holding penalty and moved the Dolphins into a 1st-and-20 at their own 10-yard line. Tagovailoa threw again to Wilson for seven yards, then, after an incomplete pass, he threw a wheel route to running back Salvon Ahmed, who broke a tackle and turned it into a 20-yard gain and a first down. The drive stalled there, however, and Miami was forced to punt three plays later.
That felt like a yo-yo drive. Miami would have a big play, then have a penalty or a negative play. The 20-yard gain from Ahmed was initially flagged for an illegal-man downfield penalty, but then that was picked up. Miami was able to flip the field, at least, moving out from their own four-yard line to start the Patriots at their 15-yard line after the punt.
The New England drive began with Dolphins linebacker Bradley Chubb sacking Jones on the first-down play. On second down, Jones threw to tight end Mike Gesicki, leading to the end of the quarter.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
After the break, Jones threw to Bourne for six yards, setting up a punt.
Good defensive play continues for the Dolphins. Chubb is on a tear lately and is definitely looking like the pass rusher Miami thought they were getting when they traded for him last year. If Chubb and Wilkins can continue on this pace, the Miami defense really will step up and become what we thought they could be in the offseason.
Miami started with the ball at their own 15-yard line, with two incomplete passes to begin the possession. A Tagovailoa scramble for three yards led to a three-and-out punt.
Not exactly the dominating, time-eating possession Miami would have wanted here.
The Patriots started at their 19-yard line after a 63-yard punt from Miami’s Jake Bailey. Elliott picked up 23 yards on two carries to start the drive, then Jones threw to tight end Hunter Henry for 16 yards. After an ineligible player downfield penalty, the Patriots faced a 1st-and-15 from the Miami side of midfield. A Jones pass to Douglas picked up 12 yards, followed by an Elliott run for seven yards. Three plays and 19-yard later, New England set up a 1st-and-Goal from the Dolphin’s two-yard line with a Stevenson run for seven yards. An incomplete pass on first down led to a run from Stevenson on second down, with linebacker Jaelan Phillips and defensive tackle Zach Sieler making the stop. On 3rd-and-Goal, Jones rolled out to his right and looked to the back of the endzone, but Kohou knocked down the pass. On 4th-and-Goal, Jones threw a pass into the flat for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who ran into the endzone for the score. Dolphins 24-17.
The good news for Miami is the drive took 5:17 off the clock. The bad news is the Patriots seem to be in comeback mode, something they have done multiple times this year - even if it has not always resulted in a win. The Patriots have been a team that has started slowly, then come storming back. The Dolphins need to make sure this is another case of the comeback attempt coming way too late to matter.
Miami looked to chew the clock as much as they could on the drive, but they were fearless in doing it through the air or on the ground. The drive started with a five-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Berrios before Mostert picked up 10 yards and one yard on back-to-back runs. After an incomplete pass targeting Waddle, Miami faced a 3rd-and-9, with Tagovailoa connecting with Hill for exactly nine yards. Mostert picked up four yards, then Tagovailoa threw to Smythe for six yards. On first down, Mostert added six more yards, then another three yards on second down. On 3rd-and-1 from the Patriots’ 31-yard line, Tagovailoa faked the handoff and found a wide open Waddle for a 31-yard score. Dolphins 31-17.
Leaving Waddle all alone is an interesting strategy. Don’t feel like it’s going to work out.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) October 29, 2023
This was a good drive for the Dolphins. They chewed up clock, then took their shot once they lulled the Patriots to sleep. Waddle now has seven receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown and it feels like he quietly did it because of Hill’s explosive plays and reaching of 1,000 yards on the season.
The Patriots started their last-gasp drive with an incomplete pass. Then Gesicki caught a pass for five yards before Jaelan Phillips sacked Jones for a nine-yard loss. On 4th-and-14, Jones looked deep and threw a prayer, with safety Brandon Jones nearly recording the pick, but Smith-Schuster broke it up with a hit. Smith-Schuster was called for taunting after the hit and Miami assumed possession on the turnover on downs.
The Dolphins defense again stepped up, including Phillips’ sack. That play means Jaelan joined Jaylen (Waddle) and Jalen (Ramsey) in making plays on the day.
Miami knelt out the clock to end the game.